Take the Bible Stack Challenge

“Grab your Bibles!”

The kids eagerly run throughout the house, gathering as many Bibles as they can find.  They start to stack them on the table and I quickly realize that they will soon hit the light that hangs just above.

Collecting

They move them to the floor and start to sort and stack them by size.

Sorting

 

stacking

 

As I hear their voices discuss the best way to organize the Bibles and watch as they arrange and rearrange, with the stack growing higher, I see…

 

  • my husband’s first Bible that he received.  I know it has a handwritten message from his mom inside the front cover.
  • my very worn daily Bible.
  • the Word and Song Bible that we first bought for our oldest child when she was a toddler.  She would listen to the CD, follow along in the Bible by looking at the pictures, and then get up and dance so joyfully to the songs that accompanied it.
  • several bindings taped multiple times from being well loved.
  • our littlest ones’ handled first picture Bible.
  • the 5 small matching Bibles that I ordered for use during Bible time in the mornings with the kids.
  • various versions of Bibles – NIV, ESV, NKJ, NASB.
  • a Greek New Testament and a Hebrew Old Testament.

counting measuring

 

 

After gathering, sorting, stacking, and counting, we realized that we have over 35 Bibles.  35 Bibles for 7 people!?  Really?   (And that does not even count the access we have to the Bible through sites like BibleGateway and through downloads on our phones.)  Wow!

 

While taking photos, one Bible in particular stands out.  It’s title (on the bottom in this photo) is this…

Gods Word for Me

God’s Word for Me.  God’s Word for Me!   Thank You, Lord for sending Your Son and for giving us Your powerful, living, and active Word that penetrates my soul, awakens me to my sins, transforms me, comforts me, directs me in Your Truth, and is as life to me.  It was through reading His Word for me that I fell in love with Christ – which is probably why it brings me so much joy when I see this…

reading

Yes, God’s Word is for me…but it isn’t only for me, for my family, for our neighbors, for our friends and church family, for believers here in the United States where access to God’s living Word is in abundance.

God’s Word is also for THEM.

– for the 2,000+ languages without any portion of the Bible – not even one verse.
– for the 340 million people within those 2,000 languages where Bible translation projects have not yet begun.
– for those who don’t have one Bible, one portion, or even a single verse to share with their children.
– for those still waiting for knowledge of the One and Only Savior.

We are so blessed to be able to read God’s Word in our own language and to have it available so readily, but my heart is heavy as I read these statistics.  I am challenged to not take God’s Word for granted, but to yield the sword daily.  And, I am once again reassured of our journey to be missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators, whose goal is to see the Bible accessible to all people in the language that they understand best.

 

family Bible stack

1 Peter 1:18-25
(emphasis mine)

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,

“All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord stands forever
.”

And this is the word that was preached to you.

Won’t you take the challenge, too?

challenge

Technology: A Game Changer in Bible Translation

The following article is from the Winter 2012 edition of the Rev. 7 publication.


Employing cutting-edge technologies continues to be a game changer for enabling and speeding Bible translation. For years, linguistics and translation experts have recognized the great advantages gained by leveraging the power and speed of computers. As early as the 1970s, innovators searching for effective Scripture translation aids created a “portable computer,” long before one came out commercially. God has continued to raise up technologists who have created applications and built hardware to help language teams do every necessary task: collect language data, analyze it, learn how languages work, create alphabets and primers, and translate God’s Word.

Vision 2025 (the year we hope to see a Bible translation project started in every language that needs one) has led our translation teams to change the way they do language work, especially over the last five years. They are seeking to partner with a broader range of people both in and beyond the language communities they serve. We in IT software development are able to support this change because of exciting developments worldwide in technology and infrastructure. One is the creation of low-power devices with simple user interfaces, which is giving rise to a viral acceptance of smartphones worldwide. These phones exist even in very remote locations, including where Bible translation teams are at work. A second major development is the increasing spread and availability of the Internet. And third, the electronic publication revolution.

This combination of new technologies now allows us to harness the help and input of the language communities in which we work—in three major ways. First, low-cost computers and tablets, which use low-power and advancing solar-power technologies, can be used easily by non-technicians in remote settings. With these technologies, accompanied by simple and customizable user interfaces for our software programs, we are now engaging computer novices in tasks necessary for language development and Bible translation (see page 4).

Second, technologies like “distributed version control systems” enable large teams that are separated geographically to work together in collaborative ways—with or without the Internet, thanks to usb flash drives or local networks. Now language speakers in diaspora can participate in the language work from anywhere in the world. We are also experimenting with enabling the “crowd”/“cloud” (meaning almost anyone worldwide who can access the Internet) to articipate in a language project. We’re defining social networking strategies to engage these communities and also evaluate the quality of contributions (see pages 6 and 7).

Finally, the explosive changes in the digital publishing world are now enabling us to reach many more people in the communities we serve (see pages 10–13). These include:

  • print-on-demand, which allows printing single copies of Bibles, dictionaries, or academic papers at reasonable prices, delivering them efficiently to language communities
  • publishing to electronic output paths like the Web, cell phones, tablets, and more, which can reach the masses
  • incremental publishing, which allows us to print Scriptures, literacy materials, academic papers, and other documents-in-progress

Because electronic publications are so much cheaper, faster, and easier to distribute than paper ones, this option is now feasible. For example, translators can publish Bible stories for their community to read even as they continue working to complete their Bible translation. Or, they can publish separate books of Scripture as they are produced. This allows communities to use what is currently available, as well as offer feedback and suggest revisions. In addition, it builds excitement as they see the results of the language project early and often, rather than several years of work later.

For software developers, this is an especially exciting time, as we take advantage of the many technologies that seemingly God has orchestrated specifically to enable language communities to have free, wide, and convenient access to his Word.


—Mike Cochran

Mike grew up in the Philippines as a Wycliffe “missionary kid.” He worked as a software engineer in defense aerospace for 15 years. Mike now serves as the SIL International language technology development director and currently lives in Thailand, assessing the impact of software tools used by language teams.

We Have Never Heard This Story Before

The following story is an excerpt from a letter to Wycliffe staff from Bob Creson, President of Wycliffe USA.  This was also posted to the Wycliffe USA Blog.


Leonard BoliokiAt a Good Friday service in 1980, Leonard Bolioki stepped to the front of the church he attended in Cameroon and began to read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. Always before, this passage from John’s Gospel had been read in French, but this time the priest had asked Leonard to read it in the local language, Yambetta.

As he read, he became aware of a growing stillness; then some of the older women began to weep. At the end of the service they rushed up to Leonard and asked, “Where did you find this story? We have never heard anything like it before! We didn’t know there was someone who loved us so much that he was willing to suffer and die like that… to be crucified on a cross to save us!”

Leonard pulled out his French New Testament and showed them that the story was in the Bible. “We listen to this Passion Story every year during Holy Week,” he told them, but they insisted that they’d never heard it before. That, says eonard, is what motivated him to translate the Scriptures into the only language his people could really understand—Yambetta!

Leonard had to work full-time to support his family, and for most of the next 28 years, he could only translate when he found free moments. That made for a very long project; by 2008 Leonard and other Yambettas had drafted just 35% of the New Testament. The church was using the Yambetta Gospel of Mark and some lectionary materials, but those whose lives had been changed by the Word were still very much a minority.

Hope began to glimmer when an SIL Cameroon fund made it possible for Leonard to translate half-time for several years. And then in 2008, the glimmer of hope burst into bright light! The Seed Company picked up the project and began providing funds for training, equipment, and living expenses for Leonard and his team of translators and literacy teachers. In addition, SIL assigned Patricia Wilkendorf to work alongside them as consultant.

Leonard says, “I took it upon myself to translate for my people this Word of God that gives life. From 1980 on, this goal remained uncertain. But now, thanks to The Seed Company, I can see the realization of this dream, and I can only be happy—VERY happy! May this Word of Life that has saved many people from other language groups also save the Yambetta people!”

In the last 18 months, the 35% in rough draft has become 75%, and it could reach 100% within 2 ½ years! Taking into account drafting, checking, testing, and reviewing, The Seed Company calculates that the New Testament is almost 50% done with ALL the steps of translation! A literacy program is also underway, preparing readers for the Scriptures.

The Greatest Missionary

There have been many great missionaries in the world.  We learned about some of them during a missions class this past fall called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (which I highly recommend).  As part of this class, we learned about four men and three world-changing eras in the last 200 years.

One of the two men who set in motion the third era was Cameron Townsend, co-founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators.  “Townsend saw that there were still unreached frontiers, and for almost a half century he waved the flag for the overlooked tribal people of the world.”  If you were to ask Cameron Townsend who is the greatest missionary, I am confident of his answer.

‎”The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue. It needs no furlough and is never considered a foreigner.”
— Cameron Townsend

A smiling woman holds a New Testament

What is Partnership Development?

As part of our training for Wycliffe Bible Translators, we have to learn about Partnership Development (PD in the Wycliffe vernacular).  Here is a description of what PD is from The IT World of Wycliffe website.

Partnership Development (PD) is a ministry. It is a ministry of education and involvement to those people whom God has called to be missionary senders. This ministry begins when God calls a new single person or family into missionary service, and it continues until they withdraw from the work (change of ministry, illness, death, retirement, etc.). Throughout this ministry, God uses personal involvement with the missionary to bring Christians not already active in the Great Commission into His global purpose. Those involved gain the increasing satisfaction of seeing their contributions making an eternal impact.

This really changes the perspective of talking with people about Wycliffe.  It is amazing to think that we are already starting our ministry.  PD isn’t something just for this initial ramp-up time.  It is an on-going process of communicating what God is doing through our involvement with Wycliffe.  How can PD be furthering God’s kingdom?

In our PD efforts we remind the Church that the Bibleless people are still waiting. We model the fact that God uses ordinary people with ordinary skills. Our initial God-given assignment is to be a missionary TO the CHURCHES and BELIEVERS on behalf of the Bibleless. In God’s time, we will have our teams complete and will then become missionaries TO the BIBLELESS on behalf of the churches and believers!

Thank you LORD for Partnership Development.  LORD, continue to shape in me the proper perspective of PD.

Partnership: Faith Comes By Hearing

I recently started receiving the Wycliffe Daily Prayer newsletter.  They have a special 40 Days of Prayer which is September 19 – November 11.  Today’s prayer reminded me about a question we had recently about how many translations are available in audio format.

One of the great things about Vision 2025 is the increased cooperation with other ministries.  Here is a quote from Today’s prayer:

The work of Bible translation leads to more than just access to God’s Word in people’s heart languages. It’s the foundational building block for many ministries that follow. God’s Word in local languages is the cornerstone for church-planting efforts, and strengthens existing churches. Once the Book of Luke is translated into a language, the JESUS film can be dubbed into it. Faith Comes by Hearing can record newly translated Scriptures for the audio versions they provide to people groups everywhere. And of course, the language development involved in a Bible translation project leads to an improved quality of life for minority communities—the translation of health materials, teaching literacy, and much more.

Faith Comes by Hearing recently announced The Word of God in 590 Languages … And Counting.  They are committed to reaching the nations with the Word of God in audio, offering the Bible in a format that will connect with the world’s 50% illiterate population.

Isaiah 41:10

Seeds Family Worship has a song called ‘Do Not Fear’ based on Isaiah 41:10 from their Seeds of Courage CD.  I have been singing it for several weeks – and I think I will continue to sing it in order to ingrain this promise from God’s Word!

So do not fear, for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

In my previous posts Come Follow Me, Part 1 and Come Follow Me, Part 2, I shared how God has shown Himself faithful in the past and what we believe is His call to us for the future.  If you have read these, then you are aware that our family embarked on the application process to be missionaries.    Well, months later, after much prayer, reflection, interviews, and some shaky knees, we have received word that we have been accepted as members to Wycliffe Bible Translators!

Wycliffe’s vision is to see God’s Word accessible to all people in the language that they understand best so that everyone has an opportunity to have an intimate and life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Our future assignment: No, we are not gifted as translators!  However, my husband will have the opportunity to use his skills in software development to assist in the process of translating the gospel into the many heart languages of unreached people groups.  He will be working with a team to develop specialist computer software for use by Bible translators and language workers worldwide. This will allow for faster, more accurate, and more meaningful Bible translations.

Our next steps:  Training!  In addition to our current family responsibilities and jobs, we will be taking missions training for the next year – a Perspectives course and online Wycliffe training as a couple, onsite training at Wycliffe headquarters as a family, and SIL training for my husband in the upcoming summer.   Partnership Development!  We will also be seeking much needed prayer and financial support.

Our needs:
– For God to raise up a team of ministry partners –both prayer and financial supporters
– That in the midst of missions training and our ongoing family roles, we would have spiritual protection, strength, endurance, and wisdom
– For trust in Christ alone, a continued sense of calling, and an abiding peace as we face uncertainties and meet transitions
– For growth in prayer as a couple and family
– For diligence (especially when tired) in training, disciplining, and discipling the children

Honestly, I keep having to fight my knee jerk reaction to pull back, scream no, and hold on tight to where we are and to what we have in an effort to protect myself and our children – for my desire for stability, comfort in the known, and for being the overseer of MY time, MY resources, MY energy, etc.   In reality though, that is faulty thinking – to think that I am in control.  Everything we currently have has come from HIM.  Everything we need in the future comes from HIM.  If this is truly what God desires for our family, who am I to say no and to question if HE will provide yet again?   I know that HE will provide all things in all situations – within the known and in the unforeseen – time, energy, resources, wisdom for decisions, and prayer support.

For my Lord will uphold me with His righteous right hand.  It is there, in Christ alone, that I find strength, rest, peace, and security.

Wycliffe Members

Today we found out that we are officially members of Wycliffe Bible Translators!  Some of you may know that we have been in the application process to become IT missionaries with Wycliffe.  Some of you might wonder what that means.  Many may wonder how this all started.

Missions for our family has been a gradual, persistent urging by God to see people brought to faith in Jesus Christ.  Our home church has been College Park Church for about 15 years.  Our church has always had a strong emphasis on missions, more so than any other church that we have been involved in.  There is a special emphasis once a year during our missions conference.  Each year I would feel the tug towards missions.

However, the picture I had towards missions was someone paddling a canoe in the jungle and evangelizing the native people of the country.  I could never picture our family in that setting.  There would always be excuses.  There was never a strong connection with a people group like I have heard from many other missionaries.  In my view, participation in missions was never optional.  You either go or you send!

So we followed God’s calling to missions by sending missionaries.  Each year as my salary increased, we would either increase our contributions to a missionary or add new missionaries that we would support.  It was one of the most gratifying seasons of the year!  I was so grateful that I could use the skills that God had given me to gain income and support the work of the Gospel!  Maybe some day some of our children would receive the call to missions and we could support them too, but I didn’t imagine us being called.

Then one afternoon, I was meeting with Joshua Harber who is a field representative for Wycliffe Bible Translators.  Both Michelle and I have always loved the work that Wycliffe does and looked to provide advertising for Wycliffe on Michelle’s website.  While we were talking at Taco Bell, I can vividly remember Joshua leaning over and saying, “You know, Wycliffe really needs IT people!”  It took me by surprise.  Could God really use my skills as a software engineer?  I took a look at the opportunities to serve and most of what I saw in IT was helpdesk, backend business systems, etc.  This was not the type of computer work that I was interested in.  I decided to stick to sending.

This past fall things really changed.  I attended a Last Languages Campaign dinner organized by Joshua.  He conveniently sat me next to a recruiter with Wycliffe.  During this dinner, they presented Wycliffe’s Vision 2025:

To see a Bible translation program in progress in every language still needing one by the year 2025. The ultimate goal—God’s Word accessible to all people, so that everyone has an opportunity to have an intimate and life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

I also learned how software plays a vital role in seeing this vision reached.  I learned that Wycliffe actually needs software engineers.  The call was compelling.  We could have a direct impact in seeing unreached people groups receive the word of God in their own heart language and be set free from the bondage of sin and follow Jesus!